Matt Cutts announced this week that Google update ‘Penguin 2.0’ has been rolled out and has affected about 2.3% of English-US queries. 

With Google so keen to cut down on webspam, where does SEO go from here?

This is a major update and will likely have an impact on the Google rankings for an abundance of sites. The reason Google is calling this ‘2.0’ when there have in fact been four Penguin updates is because this is the first update of Penguin that has changed the algorithm, instead of a refresh.

Matt Cutts:

It's a brand new generation of algorithms. The previous iteration of Penguin would essentially only look at the home page of a site. The newer generation of Penguin goes much deeper and has a really big impact in certain small areas.

So what does this new update focus on?


Google wants to crack down on advertorials. This is no surprise as it goes against its standard link buying terms and conditions and has been a popular tactic for SEOs over the last 12 months.

Paying for content placements, such as sponsored posts on blogs, is longer going to be the accepted process for SEO results. Google will request that any paid placements should include a disclaimer and only use ‘nofollow’ links.

Black Hat techniques

Any manipulative activity to benefit your SEO rankings is always going to be something Google will fight against to help them remove the spam from their results.

Link spam

The general concept of buying links, directories, blog commenting, forum posts and other techniques used to gain links will be tackled with the latest update.

To be honest this is something that has been tackled for as long as I can remember so Google specifically saying ‘link spam’ isn’t anything new.

The Penguin updates have been more effective than previous alogorithm updates at actually tackling manipulative links; even if Google can’t spot them all it is getting pretty good at it now. The safest bet is to avoid any tactics that could be interpreted as link spam..

Hacked sites

A site that is hacked to add links to other sites without the owners knowledge is become more and more common as popular Content Management Systems get hacked and people don’t update to the latest versions.

This has traditionally meant the site gets kicked out the results by Google and penalized through no fault of their own but Google is now trying to help Webmasters a bit more and tell them through Webmaster Tools that the site has been hacked and give them time to sort it out.


This is the major change is where SEO is heading and the future of SEO. For a site to be successful they need to become an authority within the topic they expect to rank for.

Brands tend to have a major benefit here as a lot of them are already authorities, hence why brands have tended to do well with the latest rounds of Google updates. There are general steps that need to be looked at in order to become an authority in Google eyes:

  • Author Rank.
  • Google Plus.
  • Social shares.
  • Structured Data / Rich Snippets.

The key area that is making this possible is the introduction of AuthorRank into Google Plus. Its time that you setup your Google Plus account and its time that you associated your Google Plus account with your content so Google can link your content back to you.

Within Google Plus you also have your Circles so Google can see your network (and identify the related topics for influence). Conversation within Google Plus helps Google to see the relationship and engagement within your network.

You then have a relationship the sites you are a contributor for, all helping Google to understand that you are an influencer and your site is, therefore more influential and should rank for the relevant topic.

The general process here is:

  • Write quality content that gets Social Signals (pluses and shares).
  • Attract natural links to the content.
  • Encourage engagement and sharing on the site.
  • Build up your ‘PageRank’ for quality signals.
  • Attract mentions/links from other influencers.
  • Build up your relationships within your Circles.
  • Take a ‘PR’ approach to website promotion (get mentioned for natural reasons).
  • Develop a content strategy that generates engagement and regular interactions (earned media as opposed to paid).

These factors means you need to have a look at your site for a number of different areas:

  • Have you integrated Structured Data for Rich Snippets and Author Tags?
  • Don’t build a brochure website, build a ‘Social Site’.
  • Your site needs to be built around usability and performance – (design and architecture, as well as conversion process improvements are always required).
  • Become a Social Business. Social marketing needs to flow through the whole organisation, this will generate more content and reference points in the social web. With multiple authors being associated with your site and encouraging all employees to create regular content is only going to strengthen your authority within your choose topic.
  • Content strategy is essential (on site & off). You need a content area with high quality content. 
Kristian Bannister

Published 24 May, 2013 by Kristian Bannister

Kristian Bannister is Creative Marketing Executive at No Pork Pies and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow Kristian on Twitter.

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Comments (33)

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Arron Zhang

Arron Zhang, Business Consultant at Advangent

Very quick and important update on Google's latest update.

My take is to look at three areas: build quality site with good content, use more Google Plus and avoid using dubious techniques whenever possible.

about 5 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

There's an odd irony to including a keyword-targeted link in this particular article. Presumably Thomson Local is a client?

about 5 years ago


james hunt

So far, from the 1200+ keywords i monitor weekly, i would have to disagree with most of this article...

this is what i am seeing across multiple verticals..

1) More spam results than ever before
2) More hacked sites in the top 3
3) Blackhat sites with 10,000 spam links outranking high quality sites

personally, i have my own theories about this latest update, but we will find out in a week if things bounce back...

to be honest, im fed up of trying to "follow the rules" only for some guy with a week old domain and 15,000 comment spam links outranking a 8 yr old domain!

about 5 years ago

Kristian Bannister

Kristian Bannister, Creative Marketing Executive at No Pork Pies

A valid point Dan. However when I uploaded this article the reference to Thomson Local disclosed that we (No Pork Pies) had built the site for them as a way of helping them become content creators. Also the link was not keyword-targeted but instead a URL.

I'm not sure why this was changed by the editor, but it was not our intention to target that particular keyword.

about 5 years ago


Porkie Pies

@Dan you're completely right

about 5 years ago

Adam Lee

Adam Lee, Managing Director at No Pork Pies

Dan I completely agree with you on that one but you'll have to ask econsultancy about that. As Kristian said we originally put this in as a URL link to the business hub to show an example not for SEO.

In fact, we don't work on the SEO for Thomsonlocal, we built the businesshub and we create a lot of the content for it but we don't actively do their SEO.
We did state this originally but it was edited out of the article.

about 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at SaleCycle

I did change the link, with the intention of 'tidying it up' rather than providing a juicy link for Thomson and removed some of the text for the sake of brevity.

I've edited again now, so hopefully this clarifies things.

about 5 years ago

Adam Lee

Adam Lee, Managing Director at No Pork Pies

Thanks Graham,

Says a lot about how SEO has changed over the last couple of years to have to proclaim innocents for an anchor text link!! ;)

about 5 years ago


mark rushworth

If you look at the black hat forums you'll see that a majority of people are claiming increased SERPS for keywords using BH techniques. The new spam reporting Google doc shows that once again Google missed the mark with Panda 2.0. I for one haven't seen any ranking changes for clients... its all smoke and mirrors or another algo that is going to take 3 months to filter through.

about 5 years ago

Adam Lee

Adam Lee, Managing Director at No Pork Pies

@Porkie Pies Thanks for the natural link to our client page :)

about 5 years ago



I have been chasing Google for too many years now, only for them to change direction again and again....I have no more time for Google's games, I will keep doing what I am doing. Making a living outside Google, and if Google wants to send me some more business that is great. After 8 years of running an e-commerce website, and losing my life savings, if Penguin 2.0 doesn't work Google can go F$#% themselves.

about 5 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Adam - 'Nofollow' links in blog comments won't do much for your SEO, and adding links in guest posts to client sites is something that breaches our 'No Promo' rule in our guidelines.

about 5 years ago


Holly Dewsbury

Great article - From a Social stance, working with SEO more closely will allow for the natural overlap of 'Content' to flourish. It will be interesting to see this develop further with SEO as we all know, social signals and interactions are harder to generate that traditional ones. Content strategy will cement this marriage, but as usual the battle of what content, where,and how will prevail.
I personally focus on creative ideas first with the objectives in mind. Once a hook is established, think strategically how the idea can be built out for multiple purposes ie link bait etc. Does anyone else use this approach or look at it differently?

Holly Dewsbury

Lakestar McCann

about 5 years ago


Nick Stamoulis

Google also released this:

A document when site owners can "tell" on spam sites that are still ranking well. I have to imagine that this, plus the information pulled from the Disavow tool, will influence Penguin 2.0.

about 5 years ago

Adam Lee

Adam Lee, Managing Director at No Pork Pies

@Holly, I completely agree. SEO is shifting heavily into an 'Earned Media' process where you need to become the influencer to gain the longterm benefits of what Google wants.

A good content strategy with a clear outreach process of how to promote the brand and the content is becoming essential to any SEO process.

The problem I have with this is that brand immediately benefit from this. They have the PR agencies, the advertising spend, the budgets for quality content and already have a brand (so lots of natural links). It makes it extremely difficult for the small company to compete within SEO. Does this mean that all brands are more relevant than the small business? If not then Google has failed as its not showing me the most relevant results.

about 5 years ago

Piyush Pankaj

Piyush Pankaj, Head of Search at Havas Media

Its all boiling down to Age old fact of "Content is king" and now with this new Penguin 2.0 update its all about having a Great content on a Good quality website.

It would also be interesting to see after removal of all these spammy sites how the Arbitrage Industry would be affected, have seen loads of arbitrage model website's revenue going down via adsense post On going penguin updates.

about 5 years ago


Kate Bond, Digital Manager at Blastmedia

Thanks for your comment James.

So good to hear someone confirm what Im seeing. Im currently very frustrated as to how reputable, long established domains have been pushed down the SERP and domains that are' under contruction' are dominating first page!

Love to hear your theories about this.......fingers crossed things bounce back soon.

about 5 years ago

Mark Gavalda

Mark Gavalda, CEO at Mandloys Digital Agency

"This is the major change is where SEO is heading and the future of SEO."
Nice sentence guys :)

about 5 years ago

Alessia Cesana

Alessia Cesana, Freelance Consultant

I used to buy in the whole content strategy thing but I'm more and more convinced that PR is much more effective.
More or less what Adam Lee said in his comment: "The problem I have with this is that brand immediately benefit from this. They have the PR agencies, the advertising spend, the budgets for quality content and already have a brand (so lots of natural links). It makes it extremely difficult for the small company to compete within SEO".
I have seen people engage with the worst content from big brands, share it etc and it's close to impossible to build the same thing for something that hasn't been on TV. If it was just me to see the hegemony of big brands I would think I'm doing something wrong but apparently I'm not.

about 5 years ago


David Quaid

Hi Kristian,

Your post does sound a little biased. I've worked in SEO since 2001 and founded a specialist SEO company in 2004. Since then little has changed.

I don't know why - or where the authority comes from - that social medialists get to say "Now that Google is cracking down on spam, where does SEO go to now?"

Google have produced a volume of content and guides on SEO. If there was little knowledge or expertise required, then surely Google would only have needed a few videos at most. None of them encourage spam at all, so how does "SEO is spam" become a true statement?

I think, and I hope many SEO's would agree, that Google's advice at any rate tends to be very high level and not very technical.

For example, Google will happily tell you that a 301, for most cases is just as good as say, a mod rewrite. Anybody who's lived through a large site re-launch will probably tell you that for your top 100/1000 key landing pages - a mod re-write is much, much, much safer than a 301.

SEO isn't spam. Spam is the blackhat SEO that some people choose to confuse actual SEO with.

You might prefer Social Media, you might think that Google reads content and has a preference. If you don't understand how Google reads content, then this slideshare "SEO: Content in Context" might help:

about 5 years ago


Sanket Nadhani

And how exactly is Google going to find out if a placement in a blog post is paid or a complete post itself is sponsored? It is content just like anything else on the blog, isn't it?

about 5 years ago


Catherine K Depp

We always assumed Google+ would start holding some serious weight when it came to trust. Interesting article thanks

about 5 years ago

Dale Lovell

Dale Lovell, Chief Digital Officer at Adyoulike

The Penguin 2.0 update has kick started the same old debate about the 'end of SEO'. This isn't going to happen, but it is evolving. I've blogged about this on this site and others previously. SEO is becoming more aligned with PR, social media, content marketing and increasingly display advertising; it isn't going anywhere, it is part of the online mix. The days of SEO operating in isolation - working away online using white, grey and often black hat techniques - are over though. But that doesn't mean SEO is no longer required. Far from it. For me the interesting thing Matt Cutts said was this:

“If you are doing high quality content whenever you do SEO this shouldn’t be a big surprise and you shouldn't have to make too many changes.”

He didn't say - don't do SEO. He said use quality content whenever you do SEO. See the difference?

about 5 years ago


Steve Johnson

Penguins Coming Home To Roost...

For SEO professionals and website owners who has been using legitimate SEO techniques to optimise websites over the years, there is nothing to worry about from Penguin 2.0 (or any of the Google algorithm updates).

I does amuse me when I see people getting hot under the collar about the negative impact on their site SERPs and traffic.

I have always steered clear of spam links, paid links, content scrapers and content farms over the years so always found it easy to sleep at night.

Google have a lot of clever people working for them (this we know) and they will always find a way to hit back at sites choosing to use short term gain black hat strategies.

Quality content, natural link building, Google authorship, website authority and social media activities are clearly the way to go.

No-one wants a penguin coming home to roost do they?

about 5 years ago



this year will be the google year as matt cutts says there will be the so many updates will follow along penguin so its really better to be safe rely on good quality tactics and target varied resource for getting good links which holds the key

about 5 years ago



I think you have to admire the sheer two-facedness of Google demonising any type of paid advert or blog post as "bad" and "unnatural" whilst they make most of their profit through adwords and PPC... which is exactly that; paid advertising where those with the biggest budgets prevail since they have the largest exposure.

What are adwords adverts if not paid link spam? Google will claim that these adverts don't pass any SEO benefit and it's the manipulation of SEO that they are out to stop. But isn't it just a fabulous coincidence that in penalising these other forms of paid links from an SEO standpoint they are also preventing people doing any other form of online advertising other than with Google? Who'd have thought eh?

What an admirable demonstration of their massive global monopoly and their "do no evil" stance. Every other business channel in the world works on an advertising model - usually because there is a regulator and some form of anti-monopoly commission to prevent exactly this sort of abuse by a dominant party.

Not only have they been allowed to do it, they've also got 80% of the SEOs singing their song for them, pointing fingers at people as if they were unclean, chanting "black-hat, black-hat".

So just so we're clear : when paid online adverts are through Google it's "justifiable online spend". When it's through any other form of paid placement it's "black hat link spam". Glad we've got that sorted.

about 5 years ago


latest seo updates

really nice content, thanks for sharing.

about 5 years ago


Alok @ SEO Company India

I think Google Penguine 2.0 is mostly focused over Content and social media sites. I have used these both techniques to get rank over search engine website. And the result that I used these strategies are awesome. Engaging over search engine website is very helpful in getting a quality of backlink.

about 5 years ago



Your tips and techniques are very essential and necessary for SEO. Anyway, thanks and keep on posting!

about 5 years ago



Basically Google wants the smaller players to close their shops and go home.

about 5 years ago



What is Seo World Updates
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about 5 years ago


Kevin Byrne, Digital Manager at Shoosmiths

I agree with other posters that online PR is becoming more effective and it is an area that I'm keen to do more around in the hope of producing 'natural' links.

That said, I am getting tired and increasingly frustrated of the reality where our site is appearing lower than other sites for key search terms that are obviously embracing black hat techniques. We produce fresh new content on a daily basis, embrace authorship, active social media participation with low-moderate engagement in contract to many competitors.... #rantover

Updates do have some effect but nowhere near enough and only serve to highlight new ways to 'beat' or 'play' the algorithm.

We'll still be here talking the same talk for Penguin 3.0 or whatever other reincarnation appears in the future.....

about 5 years ago

How to Create a Successful Content Marketing Strategy

How to Create a Successful Content Marketing Strategy, Digital Marketing Agency at Cayenne Red

The larger your business is, the PR you will drive and the better your rankings will be.

about 5 years ago

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